Periodic Report Egypt

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Executive summary

Egypt is a country with an immense diversity of Culture expressions and its government has always believed strongly on the importance of working and living together.

Together, cultures could create a rich and strong tapestry and could be an engine for sustainable development for individuals, communities and countries.

In Cairo as well as major cities in Egypt, a large number of old Egyptian traditions remain from the time of the Pharaohs, and contrast with pure tribal customs brought in by many invaders throughout the centuries. That contradiction and contrast between areas of Egypt is what makes the singularity of the country as well as its culture’s features.

“Our rich diversity . . . is our collective strength.” (Johannesburg Declaration, 2002)

Therefore, the management of the richness and diversity of Culture in Egypt has been always doubly balanced through:

The State:

(Within the Ministry of Culture):

The Supreme Council of Culture (SCC)

The Supreme Council for culture is the very high instance of Culture in Egypt. It was created in 1980 in substitution of the Supreme Council for Safeguarding of Arts, literature and Human sciences that took place in 1956. This SCC acts as Advisory body for the government with reference to cultural affairs and targets principally the development of Egypt's cultural policies, and the stimulation of creativity in culture and arts domain.

The SCC consists in 61 members. Thirty-two are appointed by the state and the other members are official representatives of relevant ministries and syndicates, as well as the heads of the Culture Ministry departments.

The private sector:

Egyptian Civil Society Organizations

Civil society organizations have been prevalent in the Egyptian public sphere since the 19th century.  Its role has always been to complement the Egyptian government in providing social and cultural services.

The Egyptian Civil Society Organizations have played an important role over the egyptian modern history, they use to be a very important partner for Development and Democracy.

In the frame of the national policies set up by the Egyptian government, large and various measures have been put in place with the aim of protecting and promoting the diversity of culture expressions.

These measures cover the administrative structures inside the Ministry, the cooperation with the private sector, the raising of public awareness, the reconsideration of the Curriculum of primary schools by enriching them with Cultural Heritage documents/materials and the contribution of women in the sustainable development of Culture. The measures also recognize the importance of Culture as an economic resource and the power of Social cohesion.

The report underscores a large number of activities undertaken in the framework of the ministry of Culture as well as other governmental institutions. In addition it highlights the efforts and productivity of the private sector to protect and promote the diversity of Culture expressions. A list of the non-governmental associations is herewith attached (cf. Annex 1 of Civil Society in Egypt).  Few among them –well known and active on the national and international grounds- are highlighted in the heading of ‘Role of Civil Society’.

As per the challenges/difficulties that faced the Implementation of the convention, the most important ‘handicap’ would be the lack of institutional stability that hit Egypt in the last two years and that slowed down the import and export of culture activities. Despite this difficult and complicated atmosphere, Egypt kept a regular agenda in the Cultural domain and succeeded to hold festivals, symposiums, conferences convened with on the international map always respecting it’s deadline, or committing to it’s deadline.

However, this report shows the flourishing street and popular art that bloomed after the revolution, which took place on January 2011. Young artists have since experienced the taste of freedom allowing them to present a large and completely new panel of Culture expressions.

Realizing the importance that Culture expressions holds and the necessity of its protection, the Ministry of Culture documented the thousands of graffiti art that increasingly evolved in the last two years, and held many exhibitions inside and outside Egypt. This documentation was a very important demarche since a big number of these graffiti’s rubbed on the Egyptian walls represent the voice of its youth.